ScienceShot: Displaced Snakes Slither Back

Roy Wood/U.S. Geological Survey

ScienceShot: Displaced Snakes Slither Back

Taking an invasive Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) out of the Everglades may be a lot easier than keeping it out. That’s because the snakes have an impressive ability to find their way home, report biologists who tracked snakes in Florida’s Everglades National Park. They relocated six Burmese pythons up to 35 kilometers away from the spots where they were captured. In a matter of months, five of the snakes had returned to within a few kilometers of their original locations. By tagging the snakes with GPS devices, the scientists showed that pythons far from home slither about three times faster than those already in their home region and more often travel in long, straight lines. Similar long-distance navigation had been shown only in smaller snakes before. Researchers hope the new observation, published online today in Biology Letters, will help them paint a more complete picture of how the pythons take over new territories and move throughout the Everglades and other areas they’ve invaded.

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